The weather has gotten dreary, wet, humid and miserable. Thanks to tropical storm Cindy. She stormed the gulf coast, and now she is making it rain here, and it is supposed to rain for the next three days.
Which meant numbers were down. But we had a good showing.
Faith … What is Faith. Not sure ? Take the action.
We talked about Faith and Action tonight. If you don’t have the former, then you need the latter. And how do we do the latter ? We go to a meeting.
As many meetings, as it takes, for you to hear someone who has a message or you identify with the words, and you take that EXTRA step and go talk to said person to see
- What it is that they have
- How did the learn what they said and/or did
- And how do you replicate that piece of advice
- You take a SUGGESTION and you RUN with it
- As far as it will get you
So many of our young people struggle with Faith, and God and Suggestions.
Many people want the easier softer way, and only the die-hard newbies will listen when you tell that WHAT it is that YOU DID, and WHAT happened because you did that thing.
If you are new to the rooms. Sit down, open your heart, and listen.
Listening is an ACTION step. It will come to pass, that if you sit in your chair long enough, you are going to sink in and then you will hear just what it is you need to hear.
You might have to hit a number of meetings, over a LONG period of time. In Montreal, there are plenty of choices of where to go, around the clock, every day.
I know, I did not know what to do, and I needed people to show me what to do. And I connected to all the right people when I needed them. And over the years, certain special sober folks appeared, because I went looking for them, where ever sober people gathered.
Meetings, Step Series, Round Ups. Going out-of-town.
It may happen for you tomorrow, and maybe it won’t. That is the adventure, RIGHT ?
If you want to get sober … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain STEPS…
It’s written in the book.
If you don’t have faith, let us show you faith. Sit with us and listen to our stories. At some point, even you will identify with at least one human being sitting in that same room as you.
The last Paragraph of tonight’s read mentions the first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob, on that fateful night, I wrote about a few days ago.
Dr. Bob got sober, because Bill told him HIS story. And for the first time in his life, he met another human being, who knew what Dr. Bob was going through. Bill was speaking his language. On June 10th 1935, Dr. Bob recorded his first full day of sobriety…
And what did that take ? One alcoholic talking to another.
If you don’t have something, then take your needs to a meeting, and lay them down on the table and speak your words.
ALWAYS take your needs to a room. ALWAYS. Because you would be surprised how often you will find exactly what you NEED on a need to know/have basis.
If you glean everything a room has to offer, EVERY single human being who walks into a room has something you might need. All you have to do is ask. That is why we stress the 20 minutes before and after.
Every single person in the room has something to offer, even if they don’t know it themselves.
The forward action of faith, is showing up, every day or every night.
You might not know what that looks like, but if you just try, one day at a time, your actions will become faith.
I promise you that.
I spoke to three people on the way out tonight. Hopefully they will return the next week for another dose of Friday Night Sobriety.
It’s the Best night of the week.
So you went back out, and you either DRANK or USED or BOTH.
What happens now ?
What happens with all that time you banked, before you walked out the door ?
Do you loose that time, or does that time still matter ?
There are two schools of thought on these questions. I’ve heard them discussed over the years, but in recent years, I’ve heard no mention of the options in open community.
Option #1: Time on the Continuum exists and is still in motion, your slip is but a blip on the time line, so keep moving forwards.
Option #2: You HAD time, but you slipped, your continuum has stopped running, NOW you go to the BACK of the line and start over.
This came up today while talking to my best friend.
I’ve mentioned over the past few months, the number of friends I have who decided against better advice, to go back out and drink and use.
Here, in Montreal, my “Core Group” is trying to figure out how to help our friends, and get them back on the horse and reconnected.
We decided, as a group, to give keys, jobs and responsibilities to those who need to reconnect. Service will keep you sober, because you become accountable. Turning, back benchers and slippers into Service Hounds is what we have decided to do.
Will it work ? That is yet to be seen.
When I accrued my four years and had orchestrated my slip, I really had nothing to return to, as in accrued sober knowledge and time. I was too busy trying to survive.
That was the greater challenge, even if I took that life for granted, and pissed away that time endangering my life with more drugs and more alcohol.
I have a friend, one of our men, who went out at almost the four year mark. He was good, and stable. In the end, he fucked off, and isolated, and that black hole swallowed him whole.
My friend speaks of it this way … “He needs to practice his Emergency Exit Plan.”
Everyone needs an Emergency Exit Plan …
Everybody, no matter how long you are Clean and Sober.
You need to put your oxygen mask on FIRST, before you can help someone else !!!
Had he done that, he could have avoided using again.
I’ve learned in sobriety that in certain cases, I must be liberal in my approach to my friends and fellows.
My friend, returned with three years banked in the hopper.
Does he go back to the end of the line, or does he just keep going ?
He has ALL that TIME, in history, knowledge and sobriety.
He knows what to do, it isn’t like he forgot.
Pushing him to the back of the line, is detrimental, I believe to his well being.
The time one spends on a slip has to be calculated on where you land when you return.
If you have some serious time banked, and your slip is brief, (sometimes that can also be disastrous) You need to figure out where you are in your head and in your life.
The worse the slip, the harder the climb back into life.
Some people don’t make it back. They resign themselves to sobriety loss, and decide to just pack it in. They might be in a meeting, but they have disconnected.
Time has no meaning for them any more.
What does my friend do ? Well, right now he is doing service and he’s pounding his meetings. He feels shame and fear because of what he did to himself, and now what came of his actions upon those he worked with and friends he has known.
We know he is his own worst critic.
My friend and I talked about the TWO OPTIONS plans.
We agree that Option #1 – works for him.
He needs to get back on the horse. Yes he is marking new time, but with years of sober time banked behind him. So he has all that experience to work with, in figuring out what he wants to do now.
There are those who come back, and they reconnect, but they need to re-engage with The Book, The Steps and Meetings. (also contingent on how long they were absent).
We need to provide for everybody ALL the TOOLS they need to recover.
We are human, and we need to be reminded that (If we had time) that time still exists, on the continuum. You just don’t STOP living, because you slipped.
So let’s give you tools and trades to get back into the game as quick as possible, so that this time, you STICK and STAY.
We don’t need to punish people by telling them to go to the back of the line, now you start over in sobriety, that none of your past time matters …
That is NOT true.
All time matters. It matters by the strength of that banked time.
In my case, my past time was pretty non-existent. What I got the second time around mattered more now, than it did the first time around. The messaging was off, I wasn’t in the book, I wasn’t connected to a sponsor and I was my own worst enemy.
So the second time I DID start over from scratch.
Because I had nothing to bank on …
What if YOU have TIME to bank ON ? And you SLIP ?
Would you rather get back on the horse and pick up where you left off, or would you like to go back to square one, and start over, as if your past banked time, did not exist in the first place ? Or that your past time did not matter ?
The choice is yours.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.
It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.
I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.
A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.
Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …
Service will keep you sober.
The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.
I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.
It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.
Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.
The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.
Read This Book …
This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.
The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.
How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%
I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.
With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.
Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.
I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.
We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.
If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.
Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.
That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.
We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.
I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …
So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.
That was a particularly good God Moment.
When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.
The rest you can say is history.
Because I am right here, right now.
And We did not drink today.
And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.
It was a good thing …
Our sobriety is in our hands. I am personally responsible for my sobriety. If I want to be sober, then I have to do the work. That’s all there is to it, really. I’m not going to get sober, sitting at home isolating, or sitting in a meeting and not engaging.
There is only a short amount of time for you to just WARM a chair. At some point you are going to have to engage, or go back out and DRINK. Who wants that for themselves ?
There are some who still do that, to this very day.
If you want sobriety, then you are going to have to work for it. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. And I am putting a lot into me right now. It’s coming fast and furiously.
If someone gives me suggestions, I should really DO THEM. If you ARE NOT doing service SOMEWHERE at least one night of the week, what the FUCK are you going to meetings for ? Really !!!
I tell my friends to do service, or to call a friend and connect, and they look at me like I am from MARS or something, or that I must be CRAZY.
Oh, for the Love of God ….
I am still processing all the pieces of advice I have heard from friends and fellows. I’ve been to a few meetings. Tonight, I saw my sponsor and HIS sponsor. I spoke to another friend who is LONG sober, and understood where I am in my head.
- I have been through the Angry Period
- I am sitting in my Unvarnished/Unfiltered stage
- My Sober “Give a Damn” is Broken
- Sometimes I just need to call a “Douche Bag a Douche Bag”
- I am allowing assholes and elbows to infect my serenity and sobriety
- That’s not good at all. Working on that presently !
- Heavenly Father is directing the show – there is no doubt
- My Elder Friend Spencer is in the loop
- According to the men who were in the room on Thursday, I did fine
- I was honest, I spoke what needed to be said
- Even if assholes and elbows were sitting in the room
- My Long Sober friend who “got me” said that once he was so angry from the chair that he got up and stopped talking and left the meeting, because of the same shit I was seeing from the chair the other night
- I may not have IT, but I do have a variant of IT
- I am directed to PAGE 112 in the Book – The first three words … READ THIS BOOK
- We are reading the book.
- If faced with an asshole, I should suggest page … 112
- Right now, I don’t really care if I hurt your feelings, this is where I am right now
- If I don’t know what to do, I do service, ALL the TIME
- It is HIGHLY suggested that if I give you a suggestion … LISTEN for Fuck’s Sake
Oprah on God …
Heavenly Father speaks to us. Often. However, we don’t always hear Him or get the message or the memo. In the beginning, the first time, Heavenly Father whispers, if we don’t hear it the first time, He whispers again, the second time.
If we don’t get it twice over, the third pass, is when Heavenly Father hits us in the back of the head with a 2 x 4. If we miss it the third time, the final pass is when Heavenly Father drops the wall, on top of us …
I’ve actually experienced this series of hits, I had the wall fall on me. This happened a few years ago, during my heavy growth period between twelve and fifteen.
I’m sure that some of my friends took it personally, that I said the words, “YOU are a Douche Bag,” at the Friday meeting, two weeks ago, because they are not returning my phone calls.
That’s the problem with some people. People always assume, you are talking about THEM, in a meeting, and rather than ask ME what was going on, or if I indeed was talking about them, they go silent and they avoid me like the plague. If I have something to say to you, I am going to say it to your face.
That night, I WAS talking about someone specific, which was very close to cross talking,
It is what it is …
Some of my friends ARE Douche Bags. That’s just the honest TRUTH !
My friends, my CLOSE friends, will come to me and tell me when I am being a DOUCHE BAG. Last Friday my friend Joe took me aside and sternly suggested that I change my tack, because I scared some of my friends out of the room that night.
Douche Bags … All of them.
Why do we always have to be Politically Correct, and skate over the truth, so we don’t harm someone’s tender sensibilities ???
FUCK ME ALREADY
I’m tired of SUGAR coating my WORDS and dancing on the head of a fucking PIN.
I’d rather be Imperfect and Honest, rather than be Perfect and Dishonest.
I’d rather be honest and be hated, than to always have to sprinkle sugar on my friends character defects and shortcomings, like they don’t exist.
Oh, but they say, progress not perfection, you cannot expect someone who is less sober than you, to be in the same place mentally and emotionally, where you are. People have been straight up honest with me, they never let me skate across the ice like I was a professional hockey player.
I don’t play hockey and I’ve never been to a hockey game, not once.
It’s OK for you to be an asshole and I let you slide, and if I step one step out of your comfort zone, you fucking shun me like pariah …
What the FUCK is that, really ???
I may not be very sober, at least, here I can be honest. I am doing my best.
I’m so glad that I got my “Geographic Disease of Alcoholism” under control. I just know that if I had a car, all bets would be off … Not that I’d drink again.
Heavenly Father took the car away from me for a reason when He did. If I was grounded in One Place, I might settle down and get better and stop drinking.
Which is what I did here. I landed sober, and I’ve stayed sober.
Living here is the longest period in my life that I have been settled in One Place for this long. I made the right decision.
Met a young girl from ICELAND tonight, here on vacation. I asked her, “Why would you come here of all places, if you lived in freaking ICELAND ???”
Her response … Well I live there. She wanted to see Canada for the first time.
That’s like when I lived on Miami Beach. Locals never pay attention to their surroundings, because we live there and work there for a living.
I never went to the beach, probably once or twice in the middle of the night, and not during the day. It’s funny, I worked for a bit in a friend’s tanning salon, during my final drinking period.
I was amazed at all the GYM bunnies, who would not dare go to the beach and get sand in their bathing suits. On a Friday afternoon, or all day Saturday, they would come and tan, so that they had that GLOW about them to go drinking that night.
God forbid someone actually had to do the work of taking care of one’s self naturally.
If I can drink it, bathe in it, or spray it on, all the better.
That is, if you can afford, the easier softer way …
God I love sobriety.
This entire emotional period of my life is like one HUGE rocking roller coaster.
They warned me that I would feel again. It only took fifteen year to get here. I have friends who are early on, who are also on this roller coaster themselves.
Political Correctness has gone out the window for many of us. Not sure how sober that is, by my sponsor and HIS sponsor tell me that sometimes Honesty is the best policy.
YAY for Honesty …
Have you ever loathed someone with every fiber of your being ?
Sobriety brings with it a myriad of emotions, vying for purchase. And all those emotions are running through my head since I left the meeting I spoke at last night.
There are (not so) sober men in the rooms, that I loathe will all of my being. I hate them as much as I hate addiction. Sitting in the chair, looking out at the room, trying to speak coherently and honestly, watching people react to what you are saying, and seeing someone you loathe with all your being SLEEPING in his chair, playing with his water bottle, fucked with my brain.
I invited several people to come hear me speak, and that spooked me too. At some point I looked at our Matron of our meeting, sitting in the front row, and I sensed she was tapping at her watch, which threw me into fits of “shit, I need to wrap up,” it might have been that, or it might not have been that.
I had a script in front of me, and still, I was all over the place. In the end I feel like I really did not carry the message honestly, because I was all over the place mentally.
I can’t go back and change anything about what I said or did not say.
I’ve heard a long sober woman talk about the fact that in one moment she is the most resentful and angry woman, while being the most grateful and happy woman, all at the same time. All those emotions vying for attention, in that moment.
The Third tradition speaks about the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, and nobody has the right to tell someone to leave.
Right now, I want to haul off and speak some not so sober words to a particular man in the crowd. I want to tell him how much I hate him, how much I loath his existence, and his presence in the same space I sit in.
It is like a malediction.
I cannot stand disrespectful people. I’ve known for all of my sobriety how much I hate certain people in the rooms. They make we want to spit. And say things that are not so sober.
As a gay man, there are certain heterosexual men who just make my stomach turn. I won’t break bread with them, I won’t go to the same meetings as they do, and I sure as shit do not call them fellows.
I strayed off my script because my sponsor said that I needed to stick to my story as it relates to alcoholism. Some of my script went well outside that requirement.
Figuring that I was going long, I cut short an entire section of my share.
In the end, I got good marks from my friends and the members of the group, which meant I had hit my mark. Being that the last time I spoke in front of a crowd was six years ago on my tenth anniversary.
So why do I feel so fucked up and angry ?
I felt very intimidated sitting up there, talking to people who did not care for anything that I had to say, yet they were sitting in the room with us. I might not be 20 plus years sober, but I am sure as shit not like any of those men I loathe.
Fuck Me ten ways from Sunday …
Tonight, it rained … If there is weather going on, attendance is going to be down.
Tonight’s read: Virtue and Self Deception
I read the reading, and thought I knew what I wanted to say, and once I spoke my words, I realized that I had missed my mark. In retrospect, I lived my alcoholism in reverse.
The stories of most alcoholics usually begin with one innocuous drink, that leads to More. For most, but not for all, that’s the way it went down. Except for those people who started drinking full throttle from the very start.
I drank as a teenager. When I moved away from home, I started hard and strong. I’m not sure how I got through the first five years of my drinking. I do know that I would lie, cheat and rationalize my way into alcohol.
I was not a very honest young gay boy. Then again, none of us really were:
Young people today, have a sense of entitlement. Like we owe them something for just being alive .
I do know that I grew up in a home where alcoholism flourished. Nobody talked about it, and we always lived in fear, if we ever spoke about it to anyone outside of our four walls.
It seemed to me that silence gave consent. None of the men in our lives ever paid a price for their addiction to alcohol. My father was terribly abusive. In the end, he got away with his actions. All of them. He is a really fucking lucky man, that I did not retaliate, ever.
There were always loaded guns in our house. And Bats, and Chains, and Metal Tools, Knives and Machetes. He was very lucky that I never went in for the kill.
I do regret never beating the shit out of him, at least once, for the abuse he heaped on me. When I drank, I believed that I would get away with it. If the men in our lives did not pay for their problems, then I believed that neither would I.
I believed that if I pawned responsibility off on either of my parents, I would slide through, without being called on the carpet about my drinking.
Responsibility … That was the word I really wanted to talk about.
As a twenty-something, I was terribly irresponsible, EXCEPT when it came to being responsible for my drinking career. My drinking always came first. Everything else, came a FAR second and third.
I had a brand new car. I had to choose between paying off that car, or drinking. Can you figure out what choice I made ? A series of well told lies, brought the repo man. My father, did indeed, pay for the car, and I got it back, with nary a word about my drinking.
Did I feel guilty ? No. Not One Bit.
That motherfucker was going to pay his dues. He did.
Today, I live with that resentment high on the list of things I did that will never get forgiveness. My parents will never forgive me for my alcoholism. I will never grow up from that twenty-something that fucked them over, I will be guilty till they go to their graves.
Leaving home, was to find a life, a people, a group, ACCEPTANCE.
I was woefully unprepared to be an adult. And I did not have any clue about responsibility for my life, which is really ODD. When I lived at home, I was responsible for the house, for cleaning and the upkeep. I was my brother’s keeper as well. I had to go to school, which I did, willingly.
I graduated High School because I told a true statement to my Math teacher. I was a failure when it came to numbers, and I still am, to this day, albeit a bit better.
On the day of the final exam, I learned that all of my classmates got a preview copy of the exam and I did not. In the end I wrote a note on the last page of my exam. It said:
“I was the only student in this room, who did not get an advanced copy of your exam. Have a nice day.”
Regardless of how I did on that exam, he passed me.
I graduated High School.
When it came to employment, I was at the top of my game. I made good money doing that too, until alcohol began to cloud my judgment. As a much younger person, who had jobs, where alcohol was NOT included, I was successful.
When I began to work in my travel field, and you tossed in alcohol, all bets were off. I talk about this incessantly, many of the people I worked with and drank with, were as alcoholic, if not more alcoholic than I was. Getting on a plane on a Friday afternoon, to go somewhere exotic, so that we could drink, was not uncommon.
When I worked for a Very Big Cruise line, alcohol was served during work hours. And it was also not odd, to get on a ship on a Friday afternoon as well, to head to the Bahamas, and drink 24/7 while that ship was moving, and then some.
Many of the people I drank with got SOBER, well before I did. And nobody said anything to ME about ME.
I had to run my sordid, irresponsible, sickness ending road.
I WAS responsible for myself so long as alcohol was not part of my life equation. I knew what right and wrong were. I had morals, I was honest, I was responsible, at every one of my jobs that I had. My progression into alcoholism was jump started, when you added alcohol into my life, while I worked.
When I made the move away from home. My alcoholism followed me. And since my main goal, as I was directed by my shrink, to go to a bar, have a couple of drinks, and “see what happens,” was what I did.
My responsible sense of life went right out the window, because alcohol was the main ingredient, in my emotional, personal and sexual success.
I don’t know where my good values and honesty went. I think alcohol helped me to forget those values, virtues and honesty. Self respect went out the window as well.
I suffered from alcoholic delusions for a very long time. Like I stated above, my alcoholism began backwards. All those devastating things that usually take place at the END of ones drinking career, BEGAN on day one for me. I was an alcoholic who LOST BIG, from the get go.
I refined my drinking over the years, so as not to include anyone, but myself.
In the end I really did not need you. I had burned all of my bridges. Alcoholism helped me alienate family, friends, and coworkers. The one thing that alcohol still did for me, was to get me in the door when it came to the horizontal mambo.
Until I was diagnosed with AIDS.
Irresponsibility and really bad choices, mixed together with drugs and alcohol, pushed me over the edge, on one specific morning. In those days, in Fort Lauderdale, you could, actually, DRINK, twenty-three hours a day.
That MORNING, that I sat in a bar, and continued my drinking from the night before, I made a sexual choice, NOT a responsible choice, by any means.
The bullet was shot, and I had been hit with that bullet. Only, it took a year for that bullet to rear its ugly head in my body.
There was nobody saying to me – Maybe you should STOP. or Maybe, you should be more responsible. or Maybe you need to grow the fuck up, already …
Last night I shared with you Todd’s story.
The first choice I made, moving towards responsibility, was walking into Todd’s bar, that one night in 1993. Had I not done that, my timeline would have been fucked.
Todd – read: God, was waiting for me in that bar.
Another point I want to talk about is this: We know today, and we repeat this mantra to everyone who comes in the room that: If you put anything before your sobriety, you will fail, miserably.
I have AIDS, I was going to die, and Todd brought me to a meeting.
AIDS was a much BIGGER fish to fry than staying SOBER. I was juggling two very serious balls. And I had to keep both balls in the air at the same time.
If it were not for Todd, I would have died. I would not have made it out alive.
I was going to meetings, and reading the book, an Roy was my sponsor, who worked IN the bar with me. But Todd, was the Master in Control of my destiny.
I got responsible, it may have taken a while to get there, but I did get there.
Before Todd stepped into my life, for years before, not one human being, on my timeline, ever offered me a suggestion, a piece of advice, or uttered the word STOP.
I was working in the bar, drinking myself sick after hours, and my body was sero-converting all the while. The day I got those results, I figured that I would drink myself dead, instead of suffering the way my friends were suffering.
It was a very good thing that I did call Todd away from his vacation and asked him to come home, for me. He did that, gladly.
Todd took over and actually said the word STOP to me.
My education in survival began. My sobriety, took a back seat. If I did not survive, sobriety would not matter. I was going to meetings, marking time. The thrust of survival lead me where it did, because Todd was running the game.
For those few years, I earned dignity. I learned responsibility. I learned values. I learned morals. I learned Never to Give Up. To Fight for my life.
I was sober when Todd departed my life. I stayed sober for another two years. I moved to Miami, and went to a meeting, where alcoholics like me, heard me speak, and told me to Go Away and Not Come Back.
Imagine what that feels like, if you were fighting for your life, and fighting to stay sober, and have another alcoholic say the words: Go Away !!!
I disconnected. I became despondent. I took my life into my own hands. The HOLE in my SOUL, took over. Sobriety, took a back seat. I kept SECRETS. I told LIES.
I put the HOLE in my SOUL first.
I prearranged my slip, and orchestrated it to the best of my ability, because nobody at home really cared whether I came or went. Nobody was paying attention to me.
So Fuck It.
Eighteen months later, the cops were at the door, to extricate me from the house.
I came back home to Miami, with my tail between my legs. The year 2000 turned into the year 2001. I saw my mother ONCE.
On September 11th, 2001, we all know what happened.
Miami Beach was plunged into forced communal SOBRIETY – Because New York needed us, and drinking was outlawed for two weeks.
No bars, No Clubs, No alcohol and No drugs.
I would not get sober for another four months.
I was living in the DELUSION that if I just drank a little more, someone in the club I was drinking in, would notice me. I had lied to myself for years and years. None of those things I was told would happen, those things that needed to be lubricated with alcohol, ever happened.
I had my last drink. I was done, shattered, FINISHED.
I had to get over the border into Montreal, for my REAL SOBER EDUCATION TO BEGIN.
I was alive. I survived AIDS. I had money in the bank. A place to live. And I had meetings and the people in those meetings.
I no longer had any other fish to fry, I no longer had to juggle several balls at the same time. The only thing I had to do was STAY SOBER.
Responsibility began to set in. I had set myself up before I walked into Tuesday Beginners. And what did they do ? They gave me a job.
Coffee, set up, tables and chairs.
I did that over and over for all my years in the program.
In fact, I am still doing service at every meeting I attend, now almost sixteen years later. Because keeping it simple, always remembering that I need to act like a newcomer to keep it real, I do that gladly.
11 months in, Hubby came into my life.
My education in manhood and responsibility began in earnest.
The rest, you can say is history.
Today, I have values, morals, and virtues.
We all know that our “heads” are not places we go into, willingly, ALONE.
I know many things about myself. But I will never learn everything.
I am still alive. I am still sober. I am Responsible.
Fifty is not far off.
Responsibility got me here. Knowing I am NOT a saint NOR perfect keeps me here.
My belly button is NOT the Center of the Universe.
I am told that Step Three is very important.
Every day I have to make a decision to Turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understand Him.
There is a God, and I am not HE.
As long as there is breath in my lungs, and I get up in the morning,
it is going to be a good day.
I was talking to an elder friend at the meeting tonight and he was in Florida for a month. He had gone to a meeting, and met a very nice woman from India. They were talking about that meeting, on that night.
Every meeting has one, we all know what it is, but nobody who really engages in their sobriety, will utilize them. Where you sit, in a room, is a good barometer of where you are in your sobriety. Some call it, “Front Row Sobriety,” however, not a lot of people sit in the front row, except for those who are used to sitting there regularly.
Many of us don’t want to sit in the very front row …
I am a second row sober man. I always sit in my same seat on Thursday’s. On Friday I sit in my regular seat, right at the front of the table, next to the chair. That is my seat.
Every meeting has a “Back Row” of seats, right along the back wall. Various people, in various meetings, sit in that proverbial back row. Some sober folks with lots of time, who don’t necessarily want to draw attention to themselves, sit in the back row.
That is common.
Then, you have those people who are the last ones in, they either come right at the hour, or just after. So all the seats up front are all taken, by the time the meeting starts. Which dictates that, if you want a front row, or front of the room seat, you have to get there early.
The back rows of a meeting, are usually sat with folks who sneak in, just under the hour mark, and fail to get a seat up front, or further to the front.
The conversation my friend had with the Woman from India, concerned The Shoe Store:
And she said to him, “You know that back row of seats ? Yeah, he said, she continued:
That back row is the Shoe Store … You have the Loafers, the Sneakers, and the Slippers.
All the shoes are represented …
We had a good laugh.
Here, we know about that back row. Those people who come in last, or late. Usually, they don’t make it till the end of the meeting. Or, they are the last ones in and the first ones out after the prayer concludes. They come and go, with negligible contact with anyone, because they really don’t want to interact with anyone in the room, for one reason or another.
Seating in a meeting is time sensitive. The earlier you get there, the better seat you are going to be able to choose, if you choose. Most of my friends always sit in the same areas.
Those who sit in the front row, or those who sit in the middle of the action, and those who tend to hang back in the pack. In an unobtrusive seat, like I said, where they do not bring attention to themselves.
In all my meetings, I do service, one way or another. So I have my choice of seat. I see everybody who comes in the room. I try and shake hands with each one of them, as one of my other elder friends said to me once …
When you shake a hand, it is very important to ALWAYS make eye contact. And you always want to SMILE. Because we want people to feel welcomed and that we mean goodness when we shake their hands, and not seem like we are put out by having to greet, when we really don’t want to greet …
Before the meeting tonight, one of my friends, whom I have not seen in a while came. And we sat outside talking about Yoga, the Gym and Work.
I know for me, as I said to her, that, “You just got to stick around…” “You just have to STAY and watch your friends and your fellows.” I know that I watch my friends, and over the past many months, I see how hard I have worked, and how little others have worked. And it shows in their carriage and demeanor, and in their words, when they speak.
The amount of work you put into your sobriety, shows up over time. And every time you hear someone talk, you get an idea of just how MUCH or how LITTLE, they are contributing to their own sobriety.
I’ve been around a good stretch of time. And I know all of my friends. I know who they were when they came in, and what kinds of decisions they made, and how fucked up things got, in the interim.
My friend added … Yeah, Shit Happens. And that is true.
I, at least, have an idea of the trajectory I am on, and where I want to go. I feel good. I look good, because for a long time, I did not look good at all. I was just hanging out, waiting for something to happen. I really wasn’t concerned with my well being, all that well. Not Good at all.
I was sober, but I was physically, COASTING …
Back in February, I got a kick in the ass at the doctors office. For the first time, in a long time, I really noticed that my body had changed for the better. I had settled for my pear shaped, bloated belly, ass hanging out HIV look.
For a good decade, I was resigned to the shape my body had taken. I had said to myself,
“Well, fuck it. This is the body God gave me so I better get used to it.”
In February, through diet, exercise and medical treatment, My body did actually shift in the positive direction. And I noticed it. Which sent me into overdrive, mentally and emotionally. I changed my wardrobe. I got sexy. And damn, I looked good.
And my friends all noticed. That has changed my outlook in ways I had not really considered.
Here we are today.
Fifty is beginning to feel good to me. And thankfully,
I am not sitting in the Shoe Store.
One definition of a bottom is the point when the last thing you lost or the next thing you are about to lose is more important to you than booze. That point is different for everyone, and some of us die before we get there.
Our young man, at age nineteen, walked through a second story window, and had fallen twenty feet head first into a concrete window well.
He got sober after that event… YOUNG !!!
How many people get that chance to figure out their lives so young, find the rooms, and live successfully ?
There are young people in our rooms. Some of them have stuck it out, on the first pass, and made it. However, many of them made several passes, and are in the room, not so sanguine as they once were. Then there are those who came in, cleaned up, figured out they were good, left the rooms, and never returned.
Some of those young people are dead now.
Had I figured out, at twenty-eight, how to do this when I found myself alone, at that time, I would be twenty-three years sober today. Those times, were fraught with complications, and sober groups, were not so accommodating to people with AIDS.
The good thing about hindsight is this … I have recorded, on this blog, every single lesson I learned during those first two years I was sober, the first time. And on this second pass, with proper support and people in our meetings here, I’ve succeeded very well.
But I know, I don’t have another recovery within me. I know that at any point, life can turn on a dime.
The book says quite succinctly:
There will come a time, when the only thing that stands between YOU and a DRUG or a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.
Which is why, we need to connect with something Greater than Ourselves, sooner rather than later. I know, from experience lately, that those folks I see often, who are not spiritually connected, have flirted with crack pipes and heroine and alcohol.
The other night, I sat with a friend and told him what he really needed to do, if he wanted to succeed and not pick up that crack pipe again. Whether he follows that direction is still yet to be seen.
Funny that while we were reading this story, I got the portion that read:
“The speaker said, If you’re an apple, you can be the best apple you can be, but you can never be an orange. I was an apple all right, and for the first time I understood that I had spent my life trying to be an orange. I looked around at a room filled with apples and, if I was understanding the speaker, most of them were no longer trying to be oranges.”
I pride myself in knowing that if I wear something, I am completely sure that not another person in this city, owns, the same clothing I do.
I was wearing my orange outfit tonight. Everybody laughed at me.
The clock is ticking down to my departure for New Foundland on Thursday morning. While at the meeting, one of our guys showed me pictures of St. John’s from his recent trip to The Rock and what I can expect and what I should see while I am there.
When we come into the rooms, in whatever state we find ourselves in, and whatever our bottoms were, The Promises start materializing for each one of us.
Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
Our writer talks about the fourteen year mark, as he is writing his story. He was married in year nine, and had his first child in year twelve.
My route into sobriety was not easy. I persisted though, and the final promise that eluded us for years and years, finally came to pass in year thirteen.
2014 was the year that Mama and then, the baby, came into my life. A relationship that I chose to build, from the ground up. One phone call, turned into this relationship where Am now married, have a life, and a child in my life who calls me Daddy.
Besides Grand Pa, I am the only other man in her life. And on Thursday, I will get to see the little girl I have spent the better part of three years raising with Mama.
The closing paragraph of tonight’s story says:
I once knew a woman who was crying before a meeting. She was approached by a five-year old girl who told her, “You don’t have to cry here. This is a good place. They took my daddy and they made him better.”
That’s exactly what A.A. did for me; it took me and made me better.
And for that we are eternally grateful.
Always pay attention to the coffee maker, at whatever meeting you go to…
Six months ago, when it came time to change up my meetings, I realized that there was a meeting, just down the hill from home. Essentially, a 10 minute walk through the tunnel to a little church of a building, not far from home.
The Padua Center, is a building that houses the remains (read: Altar, Statues, Lectern) of an old church that was demolished, but the core of that church had been kept, and now mass is held in that building on Sunday mornings.
Many years ago, there was another meeting that was began by an old friend, who has since died. I used to go to this little meeting, when it was up and running.
Fast Forward to November 2016. I looked up Love and Tolerance in the meeting list and headed down one Monday night. Every meeting, has its resident coffee maker. One of the most unsung jobs in the fellowship. Nobody cares WHO made the coffee, but it better be damn well perked by the time those ungrateful alcoholics walk through the door.
Hell hath no fury like an Alcoholic, with coffee not ready to go…
Danger Will Robinson, DANGER !!!!
I’ve known some crazy coffee makers in my time.
That night I met our coffee maker extraordinaire. Back then, the meeting was sparsely attended, and only needed a small, 12 cup perk coffee maker. Over the last six months our intrepid coffee maker invested in a full bore 60 cup, standard issue, coffee urn.
The number of meeting attendees, has more than doubled in six months. And all of us are grateful for the coffee maker. He is there every week, busy or not, making coffee.
This past Monday, I asked him if he could give me “thirty minutes?” He understood that I was asking him to come to a meeting to hear ME speak.
Funny that …
This afternoon around 1 p.m. he texted me saying that he could not make our date for the meeting. I was on my way to the bank to prepare for my trip to N.L. next Thursday.
I came home and made two phone calls. One came back as a NO, and the other message was not received prior to the meeting. I took that as a sign, to trust God and head to the meeting as usual. While setting up, I told one of our women that I needed a speaker, and she volunteered to speak for me.
Not ten minutes later, my coffee maker texted me saying his late meeting at the office had been cancelled and that he was on his way. Little did he know that HE was the one who was speaking and not ME.
That realization came about 5 minutes before I introduced him to the room.
Color him surprised…
It all went as God had ordered it. He knocked it out of the park.
After the meeting I told him that newcomer quote I heard a couple of weeks ago that:
If you get asked to Speak at St. Matthias, You Have Arrived …
Our little Monday, Love and Tolerance meeting is a wealth of Sober Experience, that I have been tapping since I joined St. Matthias a few months ago. Lots of sober men and women who don’t usually hit the Thursday meeting, so, fresh minds are fresh stories to hear.
Last week, into last weekend, New Foundland was hit by a severe blizzard, which prompted some serious considerations of not making the trip next week, due to weather concerns. I called Air Canada, and spoke to them about weather. Then I called the bank, and tried to get some insurance on my $650.00 airline ticket. (That was a bust)
Tuesday would be the day that I would decide to either get on a plane or cancel my trip, because getting an airplane into St. John’s is dicey, frequently. Wind, Weather, Snow, are a given on any day. Tonight, it seems that the weather will be looking up, thanks to Environment Canada’s six day forecast.
I have cash in hand, and a good weather forecast, at the moment. In New Foundland, weather is never a given. All it takes is a little weather headed into that area, and Mother Nature can dump up to sixty centimeters of snow on any given day.
It has been pissing rain in Montreal for two days now. A Rain/Snow mix may fall tomorrow night, and more rain. We have heard, mentioned, double digit positive temps for this weekend … Let Us Pray …
Friday, last week, a good friend of mine witnessed me, two nights in a row, drinking my favorite Orange Soda. He was not impressed with that. On Friday night he said to me that I needed to stop the sugar intake and that I needed to look into the Keto Diet.
Saturday night, I did some serious investigating and came away with a diet plan that I was willing to work with. The Keto Diet, is strict. Lots of No, No’s. And very little leeway in the eradication of sugars and carbohydrates.
The Keto diet has a scientific basis. On the second link, you will find all the scientific data with Diabetes and Cancer patients.
I haven’t had a sip of soda in five days. I haven’t had any sugar whatsoever, in five days either. I wrote down the dietary restrictions on the fridge, and now we both eat very well, based on the Keto Diet restrictions in place.
Let me tell you that Detoxing from Sugar is BRUTAL … The first three days, I thought I was going to loose my mind. I was hormonal, and seriously demented. I had headaches, and I was terribly, emotionally, cracked.
One of my women, whom I work with, read my F.B. Page and she has serious time invested into the Keto Diet. So she called me the other night and we tweaked my plan, with a few changes and substitutions.
I spoke about having realized in February that I had, in fact, lost ten pounds, which spurred me into a radical lifestyle change, personally. I want to feel good, and look good, and look good doing it too.
People are noticing.
Thursday, after the meeting, is my “teaching night.”
My Elder friend in Utah, and I talk weekly via Google Hangout. We get to see each other and talk about how his life has changed since he ended his mission in Montreal. It was important that we kept our friendship going, because i want him in my life and we are friends, and each week, I get a little Faith Boost from him. General Conference was last weekend, this year, he got to see it live and in person. I get to watch it here at home.
His takeaway was this:
Community is important. Faith is Important. Charity is important.
Distilling a theological message to three points …
The number of walls you can knock down when ministering to your community, friends, and family, the better. We don’t need any more walls, we need community, we need love, we need charity and we need to love one another fully.
This message, in three parts, is familiar to me. I’ve heard it repeated many times on many fronts over the past month or so.
The Blessings of Easter is quickly approaching. The whole reason the Atonement is central to the church and her people. The sacrifice of the Cross makes this life possible and grants us life, love and faith.
Tomorrow is the Best Night of the Week.
Surely more to come.
“The more you realize, the more you realize that there is nothing to realize. The Idea that there’s somewhere we have got to get to, and something we have to attain, is our basic delusion.”
There are but two sins … The Lesser, is to get in the way of our own spiritual path. The Greater, is to get in the way of someone else’s spiritual path.
I see humility for today as a safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points toward eternal values.
The reading tonight touches on Arrogance, Attitude and Humility.
Which leads back to yesterdays quote:
I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !
The Fellowship, early on, was a sordid affair. And thinking about it logically, the Big Book was written towards a certain segment of the population. And in the early years, the Fellowship grew out of trials and errors.
They really did not have a leg to stand on, when it came to knowledge or certainty.
This reading talks about some, early on, who believed they had the “Real A.A.” And that they had a definitive answer to the problem of the drink, and only they could impart this message and that, from the reading, “You better get it…”
A very arrogant approach, don’t you think ?
This reading is dates 1961. The Fellowship came together in 1939. That is only 22 years from inception, to the point Bill wrote this passage for the Grapevine. I imagine that Bill probably mulled over what he was either hearing himself, or from others, who came in contact with the men, whom this reading, refers to.
I don’t know, in my life today, WHO has the definitive answer to recovery. Because I know, for myself, that there are old timers with TIME, but they surely are not sober. There are men and women I respect, who have some time.
All I know is this … Every so often I am introduced to someone who has a method, or a practice, or a way, they work their program. Over the past four or so years, I’ve employed several practices and methods that I know worked for the men and women, I have adopted these practices from.
None of them, we could say are the End All Be All. They are merely, additions to practice and method, to incorporate, along with the Book.
Working with others, is a great way to find out for ones self, that:
No, I don’t know, but I am trying to find out. OK !
I don’t have all the answers, which is why I go to meetings and talk with people I respect, who have a little more experience than I do. We are all souls walking in the same direction, trying to figure it out ourselves.
There is no ultimate authority, except the God of our understanding as He speaks in our Group Conscience.
I know what size my pants are. And I know how big, my head can get if I am not careful.
Keeping it simple and staying out of my head is a daily task.
If either my pants or my head swell to greatly, then I know:
I must decrease so that He may increase.
Friday night I saw some folks I don’t usually see at the Friday meeting. In fact, I haven’t seen either one of them since last September. Not a call, Not a meeting, Nothing …
Saturday I spent time with one of my women I work with. And she told me a story, about one of those men I saw the night prior. Many, Many months ago, our man went to Florida and he used, pissing away 11 years of sobriety … I know, of him, that he stopped coming to meetings for a long time, so long, that I was given his key and his treasury responsibility. He did not call, nor did he talk to me or anyone else in that particular room, for that matter.
Now I know why … He used and came home and isolated and kept a secret. For MONTHS. And I know, from his history, how hard he worked to get sober, quoting the book, like he knew the book, like the back of his hand … He didn’t …
Friday night, he sat next to me, and did not say two words to me all night long. He and my other friend left after the meeting and did not stay to talk.
This is what happens when you stop going to meetings, you stop talking to people, you keep secrets and your sobriety looses its priority.
Sad. That particular meeting did not feed him, like it needed to and he stayed away from meetings that might have fed him and kept him “on the beam.”
But addict for addict and alcoholic for alcoholic, we are going to do what we are going to do, and damn the torpedoes.
**** **** ****
You never know what is going to rise to the surface, when you step into a room.
Tonight’s read talks about:
- Drinking some more.
- Driving Drunk,
- Driving drunk some more.
- Going to a meeting because it meant more for them, rather than for us,
- Coming to realize that “hey, maybe I’m an alcoholic too !”
- Coming, Coming to, and Making a decision …
- Speaking the Third Step Prayer for themselves …
Flooded with Feeling, has been the story of my life for the past good chunk of months. Many of my friends, men and women, are in this mix right now, themselves. The Monday night meeting is a wealth of experience, strength and hope.
The line that stuck out in this story goes like this …
“I just wanted another drink …”
My Momma once said to me that: “You better Never find yourself in jail, because if you do, I will never bail you out, you will be on your own.”
I did listen to some of the advice she gave me, however backhanded that single piece of advice was, when it was delivered. I did, many times, get behind the wheel while intoxicated. And it is a good thing that nobody ever got hurt. Because I was seriously stupid. But what is an alcoholic going to do ?
Nothing stands between us and that next drink …
Happy hour only lasted from 4 to 7. Then you had to go home, change your office clothes for dance clothes, and return for the nightly debauchery. Over and Over and Over.
Until one day, You become a character written about in the Big Book, being that tornado, running ragged, in the life of someone trying to get sober at the same time.
Sadly, I would remain that tornado for three more years, until Todd stepped in and said the word STOP. I am amazed, that all the people I drank with, who got sober, before I did, never said a word to me, while I was IN IT. And to this day, I don’t know why they didn’t try to help me. Because the trajectory of my life would surely have been different, had that actually happened, but didn’t.
Our man, in this story, relates his approach to the Third Step and the Prayer. While on the phone, with the lady friend who took him to his first meeting, he writes that “while on the phone he read the Third Step Prayer to her… then afterwards he returns to the prayer and repeats it to himself.”
When I got sober the first time, I had Todd in my life. And every night, coming to work, the practice was, to turn my life over, every time I crossed the threshold into the bar. I practiced that task every night for two years. I learned how to do that and trusted in the man I was turning my life over to, because I am still alive.
When I got sober the second time, It was just me, and my prayer to God. There was nobody else out there, holding my hand. And let me tell you just how unsure I was of myself, not knowing IF I could TRUST myself alone … IF I could do it RIGHT.
It did not come for a long time, the revelation of Todd and Step Three, being the incarnation of God Himself in my life when I really needed it. I did not make that connection until I began to relate my memoirs on this blog many years ago.
I had seen God, in the flesh. I knew there was a God, all along. I knew the drill. I just did not trust anything that I did, on my own.
But I am getting better at it, today.
Over the years, I’ve watched the men I worked with, who for some, did not necessarily believe in God, how they worked around the Third Step, each for their specific sensibilities. The Friday meeting has been a proving ground for our young people, who also, many of them, could not see past the word God, and got and stayed sober.
Many of them came, stayed a bit, left, and never returned.
Even though we spent years studying the word God, trying to find work around’s to allow the belief in whatever worked until they figured God out for themselves.
Every day, we have an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.
Do I want a thimble full of God, one day at a time, or
Do I want a bucket full of God, one day at a time ???
And when is it that I realize that I am a drop in the big ocean that is humanity (read: God). And that I am one with ALL that is, because a little of all that is OUT THERE, is within me, and that a little piece of WITHIN ME is one with all that is OUT THERE.
And that, as I live and breathe, the universe out there, knows, before I even utter a single thought, prayer or word …
How amazing is that ???
Why, at this particular point in history, has God chosen to communicate His healing grace to so many of us ? Every aspect of this global unfoldment can be related to a single crucial word. The word is “communication.” There has been a life saving communication among ourselves, with the world around us, and with God.
From the beginning, communication in A.A. has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes. Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart.
There is a reason that the Friday night meeting is the BEST meeting of the week. There are times when the depth of gratitude appears and we are reminded just how lucky was all are to be sitting together in a darkened room for an hour.
They say that the opposite of addiction is not recovery, but CONNECTION.
We all need someone in our lives to stand in our corner and cheer for us. We all need that one particular friend, who is going to show us love and encourage us to step out of our boxes and expand to meet the world head on when we get clean and sober.
The words Gratitude, Silence, God and Rooms came up in discussion.
Another friend spoke about how scientists found Seven planets orbiting a cool dwarf star, Trappist One, some 39 light years from Earth. And if we can prove LIFE on another world, in the coming decades, that is going to blow all of our socks off and change the face of humanity as we know it.
I talked about silence. And how important Silence is to me. I also talked about “The Spirituality of Imperfection,” a book that is making the rounds with the men I work with. And just how important that book is, in teaching us to be spiritually aware, connected to God and connected to one another.
One of the things I think, is important in the lives of my men, is that we learn how to pump GOOD into the world. To ourselves, to our spouses, to our friends, and also to the people we work with on a daily basis.
Pumping good into the world, just for the sake of it, is not the goal here, but for us to engage our fellows with communication that may, one day, come back to us …
Juan works with our young millennial who is stuck in tunnel vision which I wrote about a few days ago. Juan’s job is to pump as much good into his young friend, that one day, he might sit in his office, and have a moment for himself, maybe a moment of clarity, and walk up to Juan and say … “Remember when you said “this” to me, well I get it now !!!
We need to communicate on many levels every day, with many people. And this is something we work on every day, to engage, polish and hone our messages. Because one day, all that work will come back to us, when we least expect it.
That is why, working with others is crucial for our recoveries. The communication of self worth, faith, love and charity can change a life, in ways we just cannot imagine. Which is why we hone our skills together, so that we can welcome a newcomer and spend precious time with them “showing them the ropes.”
God, is the hardest word to communicate to new folks. As we heard tonight, from one of our young men, who is in rehab here, who came from an evangelical home, who later turned his back on God, and went down the addiction rabbit hole, only now, “Coming to, to finding out, who the God of his understanding is, one day at a time.”
The words, keep coming back are appropriate here, because each day we return for another dose of sobriety, we hear communications and we see God (read:Higher Power) move in the rooms.
When I realized this, early on when I got sober this time, watching other people have spiritual experiences themselves, proved to me that there was something outside of myself that was working on my friends. And I wanted that for myself, so I kept returning to particular meetings, watching my friends get sober.
It was the chase for spiritual experience.
Something I tell people who are new, is the most thrilling aspect of going to meetings. Instead of chasing a buzz or a high, or a drunk, we chase healing, spirituality and in the end, God.
Last week, I got on a bus, traveling from Montreal to Ottawa. That ride, is the most peaceful ride. I can find my seat, usually, two rows from the back, on the right side. I sit down and I sink into my seat knowing I am turning my life over to the driver. And however long it takes us to get from point A to point B, is how long it will take.
I just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The return trip, both times I made this transit, is a quiet ride. The “coming home.” People usually sit quietly, not necessarily listening to music or reading, but it is like, we all know, we are, “returning.” And this ride is almost silent, aside from the bus moving and creaking along.
Last fall, on the way home, we were rewarded for our silence. Because as we entered Downtown Montreal, on the highway, a bright, Rainbow stretched from one side of the city to the other. It was magnificent. Everyone on the bus was stunned by the beauty of God.
What do we do at meetings is, we learn to turn off the chatter in our heads. We learn how to sit still. We learn how to listen. And we learn how to communicate.
And one day, it will happen for you, when you sit in a room and you share from your heart, and someone walks up to you afterwards, and says, “what you said changed my life…”
In the rooms, we expect miracles, because where else can you go and witness the miraculous ?
It has been whirlwind weekend spent with Alexander in his new home town, Ottawa. I’ve been disconnected from the internet since Thursday. And I really did not miss it at all.
It was good to spend time with my best friend and see the city, in the Winter. He lives in the heart of The Village. Just blocks from Parliament Hill. He just landed a new job working on the Hill for an MP. We toured the neighborhood where he will be working. The building sits between the Canadian Supreme Court building and Parliament Hill. MP’s are spread over several buildings, because they are numerous, so they could not be located in One Building.
Canada’s Supreme Court …
This is the building Rafa will be working in very soon. Very Swanky !!! Next door to the Courthouse.
Yesterday, we spent the afternoon touring The Peace Tower and the Memorial Hall. We missed out on an English tour of The Hill, tickets were sold out. I’d never seen that part of Parliament Hill before. And I have a bunch of photos from the Tower, looking down over Quebec (Gatineau) and Ottawa Proper.
I read “Shake Hands with the Devil,” written by Romeo Dallaire. It took me over a week to read. And while up the tower I took photos of places that he mentioned in the book. He was living on the Quebec Side, while in Ottawa, and several times in the story he crosses a certain bridge and finds himself in Confederation Park, where he finally hit his bottom, over a bottle of scotch.
We then visited Memorial Hall, where the names of all the soldiers who have been killed in the service in Canada’s Military are inscribed.The room is quite magnificent, and holds a wealth of meaning to our country.
The last time I was in Ottawa, last Fall, we attended a multi-media presentation which was projected on the face of Parliament Hill, and tells the story of how Canada came to be and how Parliament Hill was built.
Yesterday, we got to see the Tower from the inside and hear the story told by a guard in the Hall. And she shared with us all the constituent pieces that make up the room, from the stones on the floor, to the conflicts carved on the walls, and the several Books of Remembrance, located all around the room.
All of the soldiers who have died in the service of Canada, in all the conflicts over the decades, their names are written in Memorial Books. There are several. Every day at 11 a.m. the page of each book is turned by the keepers of the hall.
If you are family, of any soldier, in the books, you can communicate with Parliament, when your family members name appears on the page turned for that day. You can come to Memorial Hall and witness the page being turned, to pay respects to your honored dead.
After our tour, we headed for the Rideau Canal, which runs through Ottawa from the Ottawa River, across the city. The river is frozen, and is the worlds biggest skating rink. There were hundreds of people skating all along the river, which we walked for quite a bit, on the ice.
It Was Cold !!!
By the time we finished our afternoon event, we pulled up to the Rideau Center Mall, for some rest, warmth and quiet. Sitting in the food court, which was unlike any I had ever seen before.
All in All we walked about 8 kilometers over the day, from beginning to end. We went back home to rest for a bit before we hit a Thursday Night meeting in Ottawa. On Friday night we hit another meeting in the neighborhood close to home. The meetings we hit were close and within walking distance. It was good to hit a meeting each night and meet other alcoholics in the city. We did some service, and found Rafa someone to work with, I hope.
We visited the Book Bazaar located just down Bank Street from home. This used book store was HUGE and covered two floors with books piled from floor to ceiling. We spent some time looking around and I picked up a couple of books. If we had more time, and serious amounts of money, one could do some serious damage in a shop like this.
After the meeting Friday night, we came home just knackered. So we all went to bed early, and slept in late this morning. Rafa treated Meg, and myself to a breakfast of champions, which was nice to break bread all together.
This afternoon, I went to play some Dungeons and Dragons with Alexander and his friends. We did not get very far, because I had to catch my Uber to the Bus Station around 2.
Our bus departed Ottawa at 3 p.m. stopping in Kirkland and at the Airport here in Montreal, before ending its run at the central bus station at Berri.
The trip out took four hours because we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic because our major highway system is under construction and is all torn up as they rebuild the whole entire structure.
Parliament Hill snowed under …
Can I just say that it is bitterly COLD outside. My poor tootsies froze on my transit.
UGH, can we get to Spring any sooner, please ?
February is moving along, and our team tonight, was made up of all new people in all areas of the meeting. I opened and a lady friend of mine was in the chair.
Hearing fresh stories are such learning experiences. Thursday night has seen a number of “Firsts” over the last few months. Our speaker tonight, was a young lady, whom I know from other meetings.
In her own words, “throughout her life, she thought it was necessary to hide every identifying marker that defined her. That she just had to hide who she really was, because her view of the world was so skewed.”
I try to tell my Lady readers, when I hear stories like this, that there are women out here who suffer, sometimes worse than the men do. Because in the end, tonight, when she finally made it to the rooms, she was dead inside.
Her junkie boyfriend once said to her, after he visited us occasionally, that “she would like us, if she was an alcoholic.” That one sentence rattled around her brain, until she was ready to come to a meeting.
People who come from small places in Canada, small towns, in far away provinces, this story is particular. Coming from dysfunction she did not know any better. By the time she hit high school, she had constructed a very fine facade to make sure she gave her friends the right image of who she thought she should be, and certainly, not who she really was.
People coming from small communities, with very little population, and moving into large city situations where many people are, can be jarring.
- In the end, she drank fast, to get “somewhere” other than where she was.
- She was always trying to get somewhere else.
- Because where she was, wasn’t cutting it for her.
Bring an Atlantic Province, small town girl, to Big City Montreal, with all its distractions and situations, brought our young lady to her knees.
The part of her story that I identified with was this …
Her longest relationship was with a boy, who was a junkie. Living in a house that was falling down around them, the only thing our young lady really wanted was “really good window coverings.”
She just did not want to see the light of day at 4pm while she slept.
Holding together an abusive, junkie relationship took all she had. And barring anyone or anything else, all she could do was try each day to hold it together, until that challenge became untenable.
I’ve said before that our young people suffer greatly. And the women, more so than the men. Their stories are frightful. Some of us guys listen and compare how hard we got into trouble with our addictions, and our stories pale in comparison.
When I began my slip, I was answering the call of the Hole in My Soul. And I packed up my house and moved 1000 miles from home into the middle of the United States answering a call to be with someone, I really had no idea about in reality.
Nobody knew where I was. If I had been arrested or died in that place, nobody would have missed me or come looking for me either. Living with an active junkie is a seriously tall order. Because, to outsiders, we had to present a common front, as if to say, its really not bad, we are ok. When in reality I was dying inside, stuck somewhere I really regretted finding myself.
That eighteen months was serious hell. I did make contact with an angel in the outside world at one point, who, when the time was right, sent the cops to get me out and save my life. There is no holding together a relationship with someone who was dead set upon self destruction and my destruction as well.
I had to get out.
Our young lady, in the end, found her way out, into the rooms.
What she found turned her life around in so many ways. That finely crafted facade fell away, when she realized that there were other women like her to talk to, and identify with.
I talk about how restorative the rooms are, if you use them wisely.
In our young lady’s case, all those problems like home, house, money and life, just melted away, and turned around, as if on their own.
I do not minimize the work she had to do, in this one years time, to see the wisdom in the choice she made that fateful day when she arrived on our doorstep. She is wise. After only a year and a couple of months, her life has seriously turned around.
I see her on Friday nights. Our young women are a tight bunch and they travel in packs to meetings, which is a very good thing.
Coming out of the dark, not having to hide who she was, behind a facade was freeing in miraculous ways. Can you imagine the energy and effort it took her to construct this wall between her and the outside world ?
Now, imagine for a moment, when she frees up all that pent up energy, and points it inwards, and turns all that negativity into positive strides …
That is Miraculous Power.
I know what that power is, because I learned that lesson myself.
In the end she said that in the rooms she had “Found her people.”
She exuded Gratitude from the heart.
Tonight we read another “Woman’s Story.” Because I am an Alcoholic, was written by our writer, in the 1950’s. By the end of the story, we find out that she is also 28 years sober, at the time of penning her story.
Trying to find out “Who We Are?” is a question that I think is universal, and not uniquely an alcoholic problem.
For every man or woman in the room, there is a story about who they thought they were as kids, then progressing throughout their lives, to the point they drank trying to figure it out, and finally coming to the rooms, where FINALLY, we figured that out.
In the end our lady found out that she was gay, she moved from the city to the country, and built a garden, where she found peace and serenity.
For me, I knew I was gay which was why I had to leave home. And the one bit of advice I took as gospel was that … “In order to be part of you had to drink…”
That was SOOOOO Wrong !
There were several point in her story that I identified with. Her life began in the country and a solitary childhood and her imaginary friends, then moving to a big city, where she encountered other kids, she still felt apart from, different.
Her odyssey of alcoholism took her all over the world, looking for connection and inclusion. But those tell tale signs, the massive drinking bouts, and black outs and not knowing what she did the night before, began to haunt her.
In her mind though … She just could not be an alcoholic.
Through a series of unfortunate, or maybe fortunate events, in the presence of her therapist and friends, she came around to see that actually, she WAS an alcoholic.
How many of us, just don’t see it while we were IN IT. How many of us came around at first, thinking that “I could not be an alcoholic!” How much time did we sit in the rooms trying to figure it out, justifying our habitual drinking, until we could not fight it any more.
We hear those same words again: Fear, Guilt, Anger, Rage …
We are in a season of “feeling” right now. Something I had not necessarily seen, but the signs were there. My circle of friends is tight. And we’ve been in each others company for a while now.
We have had losses of family, the loss of friends, communities. We’ve seen insanity come to other places, and tragedy occur here at home. I guess you could say that there has been a confluence of “current events” that have shaken the equilibrium of our people.
Our writer talks about finally being able to see and experience the world around her. Be that in her garden, or among her friends, or in the rooms, she mentions the word Seasons.
In my life, I think about the first time around, and what really mattered about that period in my life. Life was coming fast and furiously, and I really did not have time to stop and breath for such a long time.
I HAD coasted to the four year mark, relatively alive.
The familiar Geographical is a common theme in many alcoholic stories. As was apparent in our writers story. I had gone to the many places she did, in my own story.
My first stint in sobriety, did not offer me what this round did. There were too many unhealthy people in my vicinity. The messaging was all wrong. I was too disconnected to know better, that I was disconnected. And nobody knew to say anything before it was too late to affect change.
Even if I did know that, the HOLE in my SOUL, was running the game at the very end …
When I got sober the second time, I was all alone, save the people in the SOBE room who took care of me. I had no friends, no family, no relationship.
I reflect on the year 2001 … I was numb through a national tragedy.
The opportunity to make One Final Move presented itself. I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. I made that move, and did not look back.
I got to Montreal, in April of 2002. In the buffer zone between the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. During that first year of time, I was living alone, going to meetings, attending after care, and I stayed sober, by doing everything I was told to do without argument.
I had eight months of being able to experience my surroundings. The people in my life, then, kept me very busy and on a short leash. In the end, it took me about two years to fully integrate into Canada and find my footing.
I remember that I had time to breathe. You might not think that that is so important, but coming out of the scourge of AIDS and surviving, knowing how hard that was and how we held out collective breaths, hoping to live, because expectations were not very high, nor were the prognosis-es, realizing that I could breathe was very important.
I had come to the point that I was One, alive and Two, sober. With those two markers out of the way, I could concentrate on living life for the first time in my life.
I was almost a year sober before I met my now husband. I had all the time in the world to get to know my world intimately and soberly. And by the time we did meet, I was ready for that portion of my life to flesh out.
The book says that the only thing that has to change in sobriety is Everything.
We see, right now, that people are feeling. In Open Community. I did not notice this until now, having spent the last year and a bit feeling, myself. But over the past few months, feelings have been on our dashboards for some time.
Spend enough time with your friends, and life happens.
My fifteenth year was, as I have said, the most emotional year I have experienced, since I got sober this time around. I’ve been “feeling in open community” and in the end, those people, whom I thought were my friends, punished me for feeling, openly.
I had not known a time where my shortcoming would be used against me by people who watched me crack under my emotions, and then say that they just could not be part of my life anymore.
Alcoholics and Addicts have very selective abilities. Many of them, placed me on a pedestal and it seemed to me, in the end, that I was supposed to be this “Vulcan type” hybrid a.l.a Spock. Not allowing myself to feel anything.
Because when I did feel and express myself “in open community” people ran for the hills screaming and yelling…
I just cannot wrap my head around they way my friends turned around and ostracized me.
But it is what it is. I’m involved in new meetings and a new social circle.
Living in a four season country, if you take the time, there is so much to look forward to. So much to see and so much to experience.
My favorite season is Fall.
That is the season where the most happens. Falling leaves are amazing. Fall is beautiful in a country where trees and green spaces matter.
It is a religious experience, the very first night it snows. I wait for that night to happen every year. The first snow for me, is Holy.
Had I stayed where I was, in Miami, in a 2 season state, Wet and Wetter … Living in the hole I was living in, alone, I would never have flourished the way I did here.
This last move had to work, and I did all the right things.
I would never go back to the life I had for any amount of money.
Coming up on my fifties soon, all I have is time. And I need to remember to appreciate every day, because I never know when this other shoe is going to drop.
Twenty three years later, nobody knows what is going to come, or what life is supposed to look like, so we are all playing the game very carefully.
One day at a time …